New Delhi: It was a perfect start for India on Tuesday. Capitalising on France’s jittery start, the eight-time gold medallist team, scored two quick goals, in either halves, to maintain their upper hand throughout the match held at the Dhyan Chand Stadium. They scored half a dozen goals against two to beat 18 th ranked France 6-2 and push their case further towards qualifying for the London Olympics.
By the time France realised they were lagging behind, they were already down but not out. India’s first goal came in the 4th minute. Tushar passed it on to Saravanjit Singh, who in turn left it to Shivendra Singh to finish the business. He did it meticulously and his trademark salute followed.
It was Sandeep Singh’s turn to shake the French defence again. Matthias Dierckens, the French keeper, looked clueless as he kneeled to the left when Sandeep fired it to the right. Scoreboard read 2-0 in India’s favour then.
India’s quick moves on the field and their pace did bother the French a lot. However, towards end of the first half the hosts had to face stiff resistance but to not much effect. Sandeep managed another goal in the 30t via penalty stroke. A racing Sunil was ruthlessly pushed down inside the French arc when he had almost reached the opponent’s goalmouth. He was awarded penalty stroke.
Sandeep and Sardar executed outstanding skills on the field. While the former showed his scoring agility, the latter proved his worth in the defence. Meanwhile, the French came back strongly and threatened the Indian defence for an interregnum at the end of first half. They came close to make their first breakthrough in the 34th minute but the Indians were quick to resist. But their presence in the Indian ‘D’ proved fruitful when Lucas Sevestre converted a penalty corner at the 35th minute.
However, it didn’t bother the Indians much as it was evident from the two goals they scored after the start of the second half. It was the final nail in the French’s coffin. Sandeep struck again in the 37th minute. Sunil pushed it in a Shivendra pass in the 39th to put India in a commanding position. By then, India were 5-1 ahead.
Fabien Magner reduced the margin for the European side in the 57th minute, which was followed by a Tushar goal for India. With the win on Tuesday, India stood on top of the table with a tough encounter in the form of Canada on Wednesday.